The ACP Council of Ministers,
Meeting in Brussels, (Belgium), from 24th to 25th November 2015,
A. HAVING REGARD to the resolution of the 101st session of the ACP Council of Ministers held in Brussels, Belgium, on 26, 27 and 29 May 2015, on the Development of the ACP Commodities sector;
B. HAVING EXAMINED the document on outcome and follow-up on issues arising from the 18th Ministerial Trade Committee and the 13th Joint ACP-EU Ministerial Trade Committee meetings held from 22 – 26 June 2015, as well as the ACP Ministers of Trade meeting held on 20 – 21 October 2015 – ACP/61/047/15 Rev 2;
C. RECALLING that the Geneva Agreement on Trade in Bananas concluded in Geneva on 15 December 2009, between the European Union (EU) and some Latin American countries, and with the United States of America, aims to create a tariff reduction schedule meant to set tariffs for the import of banana into the European Union at €114 per tonne;
D. NOTING however, that in the meantime, Central American and Andean Pact Countries obtained a landing duty of €75 per tonne through bilateral agreements with the EU, beyond existing commitments, allowing them to save, to date, more than €1 billion in customs duties to the detriment of the ACP regions;
E. RECALLING that the abolition of EU sugar and isoglucose quotas in September 2017 would lead to a loss of preferential market share for the ACP States due to the open competition among ACP, EU and third countries;
F. RECALLING FURTHER that for trade preferences in sugar to have value and for EU Policy Coherence for Development to have meaning, it is essential that favourable trade rules promoted by Economic Partnership Agreements and the “Everything but Arms” initiative remain fully effective, secure and reasonably remunerative;
G. CONCERNED that in a completely liberalised EU market, ACP sugar producers will have to compete with some large low-cost exporters (i.e. the so-called CXL exporters, mainly Brazil and Australia) and an increasing number of countries benefiting from the new Free Trade Area agreements being negotiated by the EU;
H. WELCOMING the positive results achieved under the ACP Sugar Research Programme (ACP-SRP) and being made available to industrialists and other centres in ACP States with a view to enhancing the competitiveness of the ACP sugar sector;
I. TAKING NOTE OF the ongoing actions to implement the Conclusions of the 20th Session of the Steering and Follow-up Committee of the EU- Africa Partnership on Cotton (COS-Coton), held in Cotonou from 9 to 11 March 2015, particularly regarding the implementation of a Pan-African agenda on Cotton over the next 10 years;
J. TAKING NOTE ALSO of the results achieved by the various actions taken with the ultimate goal of enhancing Pacific Islands’ policies on good agricultural practices, processing and trade in kava;
K. CONSIDERING the provisions in the European Parliament and Council Directive 2014/40/EU on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products referred to as the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), which aims to regulate the manufacture, sale and distribution of tobacco products within the European Union;
L. UNDERLINING that the implementation of Plain Packaging provisions in the TPD has not reduced tobacco consumption but rather rendered smoking cheaper, thereby resulting in the unwanted outcome of increasing the number of smokers;
M. STRESSING the fact that the Plain Packaging measures are not only disproportionate to the health provisions of TPD but also contrary to Multilateral rules, specifically two WTO Agreements, Article 2.2 of the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (TBT) and Article 20 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Agreement;
N. NOTING that the TPD Directive calls on EU Member States to incorporate the Directive into their national laws by May 2016;
O. STRESSING the role played by the production of various commodities such as bananas, cashew nuts, cotton, tobacco, kava or sugar in ACP countries as a driver of economic development and a major foreign exchange earner;
P. UNDERLINING the fact that as an efficient development tool, the production of these commodities ties people to their communities;
Q. ACKNOWLEDGING that the commodities sector is included among the core sectors for private sector development under the 11th EDF Intra-ACP strategy;
R. ANXIOUS to make operational the ACP Group’s New Approach to the Commodities Sector, currently under preparation by the ACP Secretariat, and to allocate adequate resources for its implementation;
S. RECALLING the urgent need to ensure that in the framework of the New Approach to the Commodities Sector, special attention is paid to the development of value chains at local and regional level, by taking account of the critical role played by small-scale producers;
T. NOTING the Report submitted to the ACP Council of Ministers on 24 November 2015 by the ACP spokesperson for Sugar;
U. HAVING EXAMINED the Report of the Secretary-General- ACP/11/002/15 Rev 1 and the Report of the Committee of Ambassadors to the 102nd Session of ACP Council of Ministers- ACP/26/081/15 Rev 1, particularly the Section on Sustainable Economic Development and Trade;
1. Welcomes the European Commission’s indication that no further tariff liberalisation will be granted to EU trade partners who are direct competitors of ACP Countries on the Banana market and calls on the European Commission to formally commit to that goal in order to prevent a further reduction in tariffs below €75 for the Latin American countries ;
2. Welcomes also the European Commission’s oral indication that the special safeguard clause set out in EU Market Access Regulation 1528/07 and in the Economic Partnership Agreements cannot be used to discriminate against imports of ACP sugar but only as an indicator of possible market disturbance and invite again the European Commission to firmly confirm this in writing;
3. Urges the European Commission to refrain not only from a direct intervention in sugar market supply arrangements, but also from a continuing public debate, which might encourage buyers to hold back unnecessarily, and reminds the European Commission of article 12 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement;
4. Invites the Committee of Ambassadors to work closely with the ACP Secretariat to establish a clear finalization and implementation plan for the New ACP Approach to the Commodities sector;
5. Calls on the European Union and EU Member States to refrain from the inordinate extrapolation of the Directive 2014/40/EU, to extend the deadline for its entry into force by a year and to implement Article 11 of the Directive instead of Articles 9, 1, 9.2 and 10;
6. Invites the President of the Council of Ministers to forward this resolution to the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament, EU Member States, and the European Commission.
Brussels, 25th November 2015